International education has been placed alongside establishing an ambitious free trade strategy, growing the value of tourism and developing New Zealand’s international marketing brand as the government aims to increase the ratio of exports to GDP from 30% to 40% in ten years.
Among the initiatives to boost education exports, the government is planning a review of Education New Zealand, the international education development agency, an expansion of inbound scholarships to students in Latin America and to leverage international alumni networks.
“We need to ensure our international education strategy is fit for purpose and is attracting students who can benefit New Zealand”
International education is worth nearly NZ$2.85bn to the country’s economy and supports more than 30,000 jobs. Last year, the number of international students rose 13% to 110,198, the highest since 2004.
The growth agenda credits the understanding of cultures and languages gained through international education for ensuring New Zealanders are equipped with the “international capabilities, readiness and competitiveness required for the global economy” and underlines investments in language learning at school level and study abroad in Asia for tertiary level students.
The government also plans to expand its scholarships scheme beyond Asia to students in Latin America.
“In an increasingly competitive world, we need to ensure our international education strategy is fit for purpose and is attracting students who can benefit New Zealand,” the agenda reads, adding that the programme aims to “build brand ambassadors for New Zealand to develop the international marketers, traders, diplomats and entrepreneurs of tomorrow”.
“The government has also realised the power of its alumni which total nearly 22,000 former students from bachelor’s degrees since 2006 and a further 19,000 from postgraduate degrees.
“They [alumni] represent a largely untapped resource for companies looking to internationalise and for public sector agencies,” the agenda says.
“They [alumni] represent a largely untapped resource for companies looking to internationalise and for public sector agencies”
“We are developing a new project to link our international alumni more explicitly with our international sector.”
The Building Export Markets report is one of six chapters in the government’s growth agenda 2015. Other reports outline initiatives in investments, infrastructure, natural resources, skilled and safe workplaces and innovation.
Speaking about the launch of the exports chapter, minister for economic development as well as tertiary education, skills and employment Steven Joyce said: “This first report is important, as it lays out the challenge for achieving growth – which is about being much more closely linked into the rest of the world, and taking advantage of our opportunities.”
He went on to say that, “While the world is going through tough times, the growth in Asian incomes will occur over the next 20 years. So there will be job growth. New Zealand’s challenge is to ensure it occurs in New Zealand, not in Australia, or somewhere else.”